Adventure Biking The Himalayas On A Royal Enfield

Biking The Himalayas; A North India adventure with my trusty Royal Enfield Thunderbird

Join me as I go on an adventure biking the Himalayas on a Royal Enfield. On this bike trip, I ride north from Delhi to the foothills of the Himalayas through Himachal Pradesh and into the Punjab.

Straddle a Royal Enfield and power through the Himalayas, where every twist in the road offers epic views and pure adrenaline. This legendary bike matches the rugged, breathtaking landscapes with its tough, timeless vibe.

Feel the chill of the high altitudes and the warmth of local smiles as you roar past snow-capped peaks and ancient monasteries. Get ready for the ride of your life—it’s more than just a journey; it’s an adventure that hits hard, fast, and unforgettable.

Riding a Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350 to Dharamsala
Riding a Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350 to Dharamsala

Biking the Indian Himalayas on a Royal Enfield Thunderbird

As an expat living in India, I’ve had the luxury of time to undertake a couple of long-distance motorcycle trips. This expedition, adventure biking the Himalayas on my Royal Enfield, was a highlight of the 2019 season.

The itinerary and route information are useful for bikers planning an extended trip across the mountains of the northwest of India or for a bite-sized review of selected regions—the Himalayas Bike Tour for example.

Wild India

India is wild and, in some cases, remote, but you’ll know when you reach those places.

Otherwise, India is wildly accessible with food, accommodation and spares & repairs within easy reach.

I say this to illustrate and encourage. Adventure awaits those with an appetite for the unpredictable.

But be warned, India can require a monstrous amount of patience and goodwill. Understanding the how and why of the place is likely to be elusive on a first visit.

An easy one-month motorbike itinerary for north India biking the Himalayas:

Delhi – Rishikesh – Waknaghat – Jawalamukhi – Dharamshala (McLeod Ganj) – Gurdaspur – Amritsar – Chandigarh

biking in Dharamshala Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350
Royal Enfield Thunderbird 350 in Dharamshala

Biking the Himalayas: A Thrilling Motorcycle Adventure in North India

Embarking on a daring adventure, we set out to conquer the majestic beauty of the Himalayas on our newly acquired Royal Enfield Thunderbird.

Equipped with a luggage rack, a new rear tyre, and some conveniences like a mobile phone holder and charger, we were ready for an unforgettable journey.

Our motorcycle tour of India began in Delhi, amidst the chaos of the city, as we navigated through the bustling streets on our motorbikes.

The rhythmic drumming of Diwali celebrations echoed in the early morning hours, adding an intense aura to our ride.

Shiva; the destroyer and the transformer
Shiva; the destroyer and the transformer in Rishikesh

Touch the Money

We encountered some unusual characters at a stoplight. Two men dressed up as Kali Ma, demanding us to “touch the money.” It was an encounter both bizarre and uniquely Indian.

As we left the city behind, we cruised along the Delhi-Meerut Expressway.

The narrow, chaotic roads of Muradnagar challenged my riding skills, but we pressed on. Savouring the diverse landscape of sugar cane fields and tea stalls as we swept through the hazy expanse.

Biking to Rishikesh

Riding through Roorkee, we found ourselves in the company of curious locals, enchanted by the sight of a tall, European blonde.

Embracing the joy of meeting new people, we exchanged smiles and handshakes, cherishing the privilege of travelling to foreign lands.

As we reached Rishikesh, the holy city on the banks of the Ganges, we took a moment to appreciate the journey itself rather than the destination.

The Ganges, India’s most sacred river, reminds us to cherish every moment and not rush through life’s experiences.

Adventure biking the himalayas; crossing Lakshman Jhula, Rishikesh
Easy rider; crossing Lakshman Jhula, Rishikesh

Biking into the Himalayas

At Waknaghat, we met fellow travellers, an Italian couple on their epic motorcycle journey from Italy to Nepal.

The camaraderie shared with kindred spirits added another layer of richness to our adventure.

As we continued our journey towards Dharamshala, the road became more challenging, with traffic, dust, and exhaust fumes filling the air.

The Himalayan terrain demanded resilience, but the stunning views and encounters with enthusiastic locals kept our spirits high.

Riding beyond Shimla

In Shimla, we paused for breakfast, enjoying the picturesque view of Himachal Pradesh’s rolling hills.

The road leading to Dharamshala, though arduous, gifted us with profound moments of contemplation and the reminder to cherish life’s journey.

Jawalamukhi welcomed us at the end of a long day’s ride, and we found a perfect spot at Hotel Maya.

The universe seemed to approve of our choices, aligning little signs and portents that confirmed we were on the right path.

A mandala painted on the ceiling of the gompa at Tushita Meditation Centre
A mandala painted on the ceiling of the gompa at Tushita Meditation Centre

Biking to Dharamshala

We immersed ourselves in Indian cuisine, relishing dishes like butter paneer masala, aloo gobi masala, and chapati, followed by fruit kulfi.

Back in our hotel room, we indulged in local entertainment, enjoying old Bollywood movie clips on TV.

As we rested and prepared for the next day’s adventure, we realized that biking the Himalayas was not just about reaching the destination; it was about cherishing every moment, meeting new faces, and embracing challenges with an open heart.

The Himalayas were calling, and we were ready to embrace the journey with a calm and quiet mind, ready to witness the wonders of the world around us.

JT rides into a herd of sheep on the road to McLeod Ganj
JT rides into a herd of sheep on the road to McLeod Ganj

Dharamshala (McLeod Ganj) – Gurdaspur

We set off for McLeod Ganj, the enchanting hill station and home of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Our motorcycle tour of India would take us to a spiritual base camp.

The scenic route ahead promised expansive vistas and alpine flora, making the journey a visual treat. However, we underestimated the challenges of the road, leading to a slightly lost and fatigued state.

Skipping breakfast backfired, leaving us hungry, confused, and slightly irritated.

After some navigation hiccups, we finally arrived in McLeod Ganj, a bustling place with narrow lanes and enthusiastic traffic police.

Finding a suitable hotel was a priority, and we settled in, ready to explore the spiritual side of this Himalayan town.

Bathing in the Baner Khad river; Himachal Pradesh
Bathing in the Baner Khad river; Himachal Pradesh

Exploring McLeod Ganj and Vipassana Meditation

McLeod Ganj welcomed us with its spiritual ambience, and we attended a mindfulness workshop at the Tushita Meditation Centre.

The practice of meditation, though simple, proved challenging. Yet, we learned to relax, release tension, and return to our tasks with an alert but comfortable posture.

The teachings resonated deeply, reminding us that the true path to liberation lies in quieting the mind.

Meeting “Hari” and Riding to Gurdaspur

Today, we bestowed a name upon our trusted motorcycle. “Hari,” was chosen in honour of our dad and inspired by India’s spiritual chants.

Our journey from McLeod Ganj to Gurdaspur was leisurely, covering about 150 km.

The serene ride took us through hilly forested areas and picturesque villages, showcasing rural life at its most authentic.

Gurdaspur welcomed us with warm hospitality, especially from the friendly and charming Punjabi people.

This lively town offered a glimpse of life near the Pakistan border, with its bustling streets and commercial centres.

The Golden Temple at Amritsar
The Golden Temple at Amritsar

Gurdaspur to Amritsar – The Golden Temple

Setting off towards Amritsar, we encountered the ever-present challenge of Indian roads. In the tropics, road awareness seemed to be an optional concept.

However, we took it as an optimistic challenge, ready to adapt and persevere.

As we arrived in Amritsar, we were captivated by the shimmering beauty of the Golden Temple, the most revered site in Sikhism.

Our visit coincided with the Guru Nanak Gurpurab festival, infusing the atmosphere with celebration and devotion.

We had the privilege of staying at the temple’s accommodations. We ate in the Langar hall, where thousands were fed daily, radiating kindness and harmony throughout the community.

Amritsar to Chandigarh – A Modern Oasis

Leaving the awe-inspiring Amritsar behind, we rode towards Chandigarh, a city distinct from any other in India.

Designed by the visionary architect Le Corbusier, Chandigarh’s grid system and organized boulevards impressed us with its functionality.

Our motorcycle journey through North India concluded in Chandigarh. We reflected on the rich experiences, spiritual encounters, and soul-stirring beauty of the Himalayas.

Have you biked the Himalayas? Share your stories in the comments:

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